Another Iranian national was reported killed in Iraq in January 2015. Mehdi Norouzi was part of the Basij militia, which often fills manpower needs for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF). This would be the sixth member of that force to die in Iraq since June.
On January 11, 2015 the Iranian press reported that Mehdi Norouzi was killed in Iraq. He died in a firefight with the Islamic State on January 10. The media claimed he was defending the Askari shrine in Samarra, Salahaddin, but this is part of the propaganda line being pushed by Tehran to justify its presence in Iraq, so he could’ve been killed anywhere in the province. Trend and Shafaq News said that he was a commander in the Basij, a militia formed in 1979 to help protect the new revolutionary regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It is under the command of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and was used to put down the Green Movement in Iran in 2009, and has been deployed to fight in Syria to defend the Assad government. The Quds Force often calls on the Basij for manpower when it has large deployments oversees like in Syria and currently in Iraq.
This was the sixth Iranian to officially die in Iraq. On December 28 General Hamid Taqavi of the IRGC was killed by an IS sniper in Balad, Salahaddin. Before that IRGC member Ali Reza Moshajari died in Karbala in June, along with another unidentified operative that month. In July IRGC Colonel Kamal Shirkhani died in a mortar attack in Samarra, along with Colonel Shojaat Almdari Mourjani who was an IRGC-QF pilot. All of these deaths show that the Iranians have deployed their men right at the frontlines where they are advising the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and allied militias as well as calling in air strikes They entered Iraq as part of a security agreement signed between Premier Nouri al-Maliki and Tehran right after the fall of Mosul in June. The Quds Force is leading this assistance mission, which is why all the Iranian casualties have come from that organization.
Iran has emerged as the major power in Iraq since this summer. It was the first country to fully commit to Iraq after the fall of Mosul, and has played a decisive role since then. It has forged much of Baghdad’s security strategy, has helped organize its militia allies, provided advisers and air strikes, and sold Iraq billions of dollars of much needed military equipment. This has officially cost Iran six lives, with more probably unreported, but it looks like a worthwhile investment, as Tehran will have a dominant role in Iraq’s institutions when everything is said and done.
Bruno, Greg, “Iran’s Revolutionary Guards,” Council on Foreign Relations, 10/25/07
Naame Shaam, “Iran in Syria From an Ally of the Regime to an Occupying Force,” September 2014
Niayesh, Umid, “IS kills Iran’s Basij member in Iraq,” Trend, 1/12/15
Press TV, “Iranian volunteer combatant killed in Iraq,” 1/11/15
Shafaq News, “Iran announces the death of a military commander in the war against ISIS in Iraq,” 1/12/15